A word of advice for Wayne Rooney
put a sock in it. Sir Alex Ferguson suggested recently that his star player doesn't know when he should take a break. He clearly doesn't know when to bite his tongue either. His insistence this week that he is not suffering from the phantom ankle injury cited as mitigation for the worst form of his career and his absence from United's last two games, has put him on a collision course with his manager. Perhaps we should respect the 24-year-old for his honesty and sheer desire to play football. But at a time when Ferguson is doing his level best to shield Rooney from the media hailstorm brought about by lurid allegations about his private life, it has thrust him right back into the spotlight. Like so many United stars before him, Rooney needs to learn one crucial point to surviving at Old Trafford: Fergie is always right. Even when he's wrong. In many ways Rooney's outburst after England's goalless draw with Montenegro on Tuesday night has only confirmed Ferguson's assessment of him. Speaking before the Sunderland game at the start of the month, the United manager said: He thinks he's fit because he always thinks he's fit. That's the problem with the lad because he's always too willing to play even with injuries. So it should come as little surprise then that Rooney claims he has been able to play all season. Rooney performances The problem is, his performances with only one goal in his last nine games for United, and that a penalty against West Ham prove otherwise. That's what Ferguson spotted. And that's why, after watching him toil for an hour in the 2-2 draw with Bolton last month, he decided enough was enough. Rooney missed the Champions League tie at Valencia and the goalless draw with Sunderland. Judging by his performance for England in midweek, it still might be too soon for him to return to the starting line-up against West Brom. And the truth is, Rooney hasn't looked the same player since twisting his ankle against Bayern Munich last March. He offered little as United's title challenge turned to dust even less as England crashed out of the World Cup humiliation. He started this campaign little better and when allegations that he paid for sex with a prostitute came to light, a blip turned into a crisis. Ferguson's protective instincts immediately kicked in. Blaming a combination of the media and his ankle, Rooney would be taken out of the firing line. So he has every reason to feel disappointed that his star player chose to completely contradict him in front of the world's media. At best it was a show of youthful exuberance, mixed with naivety. At worst an act of sheer defiance. Either way, it was an embarrassing incident that has heaped unwanted focus on his relationship with his manager.
What follows now could make or break his United career. The history books are full of superstar names who crossed Ferguson and lived to regret it. It is premature to talk of Rooney being close to the exit, but he would do well to heed the warning signs even if he thinks he was totally justified in his actions. Ultimately, right and wrong don't come into it. Rather it comes down to Fergie's law and whether or not you are willing to abide by it. What do you think? Have your say.